“Xbalanque” might have been a bit overstuffed, but it showed a return to the same kind of form showcased in the first season’s excellent back half.
This recap of the Mayans MC Season 2 Premiere, “Xbalanque”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
The Mayans MC Season 2 premiere is a reminder of everything that worked about the Sons of Anarchy spin-off in its first season — and everything that didn’t. What began as a pale imitation of a bigger, better, more complex show quickly morphed into a worthy successor in its own right; a taut crime thriller about family and moral ambiguity with a refreshing cultural and geographic specificity. While it occasionally made too obvious use of inter-series contaminants or attempted to spin far too many plates at once, it was, on the whole, really good. And so is “Xbalanque”, the first episode of the anticipated second season.
There’s also a lot going on in “Xbalanque”, sometimes to its detriment. A brief “Previously on Mayans MC…” opener proves to be an inadequate refresher for at least the first half of the episode, as some detective work is still required to piece what everyone was up to back together. The central dramatic thread is between E.Z. (JD Pardo) and Angel (Clayton Cardenas) Reyes, the latter still in a bit of a sulk after learning that his golden boy prospect baby brother was really a snitch for the Feds, who here in Season 2 are still wearing the face of insane self-confessed bed-wetter Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon).
The Mayans themselves have a testy new relationship with Potter and his extralegal wetwork meatheads, and a tense sequence in “Xbalanque” devolves into absolute chaos just to hammer the point home. Potter’s meddling might also force Felipe (Edward James Olmos) to further confront his complicated past and embroil himself in the affairs of his sons, though their positions within the Mayans and Angel’s relationship with Los Olvidados rebel leader Luisa “Adelita” Espina (Carla Baratta) is already pretty complicated, to begin with. And that’s without the news that familiar Sons of Anarchy face Happy Lowman (David Labrava) may or may not have killed Angel and EZ’s mother.
Elsewhere in the Mayans MC Season 2 premiere, Emily (Sarah Bolger) continues to take on a larger role in the operation of her husband’s crime family, while Miguel (Danny Pino) fraternizes with the rebels and Dita (Ada Maris) becomes increasingly resentful of the new status quo. Needless to say, this is a lot of stuff, some of it present in “Xbalanque” seemingly just to remind us that it still exists. Mayans MC still does a good job, overall, of balancing its many disparate plot threads and relationships, but it’s always at its best when it slows down a little and gives various happenings time to develop.
Still, “Xbalanque” was nonetheless mostly a return to the first season’s back-half form, full of capable suspense-building, intriguing character drama, and dour events that in the Mayans MC Season 2 premiere alone included killer children, torture, and the potential torture of killer children. This is an unwieldy, complex and grown-up show that is sometimes perhaps too unwieldy, complex and grown-up for its own good. But it’s almost always interesting and bold in what it’s trying to do — nothing about this episode suggested that the second season won’t be more of the same.